Category Archives: cars

Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring (review)

Ssh… nobody tell our teen.

We are car shopping for her. Well in all fairness it won’t really be a car just for her. It will need to work for the whole family, even if she’ll be the primary driver {gulp}. We recently took one of our short-list cars on an extended test drive, the Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring.

mazda cx-5Road trips are our thing. Being a family of five that means our cars have got to be roomy enough to allow for ample, ‘Stop! Touching ME!’ space. Since the teen will be the primary driver of our next car, safety features and tech are at the top of the list too. Good gas mileage? Well who doesn’t need that?!

Overall the Mazda hit quite a few of those sweet spots. It certainly surprised us in some areas. A covert questioning of the teen’s thoughts {she still thinks the old mini-van is going to be her ride} resulted in a two-thumbs up for some of the following…

Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring (review)

Is It Big Enough for 5?

We tend to travel with lots of gear. Sometimes that means folding chairs for the basketball game, other times it’s backpacks and hiking supplies. More often, it’s luggage for five,  electronics and roadtrip snacks. Our cars need to have ample cargo space. The CX-5 Grand Touring has this in spades.

The cargo area was even big enough to serve as our ‘base camp’ sledding this winter.

That said, the rear passenger seating space is smaller than we’re used to. The kids say they’d have liked a bit more room. It felt, “too darn cozy” according to the 11-year-old. But anytime he’s closer than arm’s distance to his sisters it’s to close for comfort.

Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring ReviewBest Safety Features

Hands down the blind spot monitoring wins in my book. When thinking of a teen driver changing lanes in traffic on the highway {or honestly, anywhere} I get hives. The CX-5 has both a chime and blinking alert to warn you of items in your blind spot.

Three point seat belts for ALL! 4-Wheel disk brakes, front and rear stabilizers, are pretty sweet too. 24 hour roadside assistance brings it all home. I’d have to say that the safety features were my favorite things about this ride. 

Let’s Talk Tech

The navigation system in the CX-5 Grand Touring was a little cumbersome. I think that can be said for most any system. Having tested out dozens of them I’ve figured out there is certainly a learning curve that takes longer than a week to get over.

The suite of tech and entertainment in the model we drove was… well.. sweet. I could connect my Pandora account to the audio with an app that is already installed. Syncing my phone was a breeze. It seemed I discovered something new nearly every time I turned on the car.

Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring ReviewThe only draw back for me was the control dial used to navigate the technology features. It’s located in the center console and I found it distracting and clunky.

Gas Mileage

Pretty darn good! We drove mostly in city traffic, stop-and-go, the pickup line at school, and averaged 28 miles a gallon. One of the things that certainly contributes to the great gas mileage is Mazda’s SkyActive technology.

From the ground up SkyActive is at work. The body, chassis, transmission and engine are designed to give this car better handling, safety and fuel efficiency. The most noticeable impact of SkyActive for our test drive was the gas mileage for sure.  

Price Tag

Gone are the days when you could snag your teen a ride in the $5,000 range. {Wait, you could do that? Okay, maybe in 1989} so we knew that sticker shock might be a factor going into this. Prepared for that we also took into account that this wasn’t going to be a teen cruising mobile but more of a third car for the family.

The model we drove came in at $29,470 with standard equipment. Not over the top price range we were considering but also not a bottom price either.

Optional equipment included; navigation system, LED headlights, adaptive front lighting, trim, cargo mats, a really cool cargo cover, daytime running lights and a few other options, but these only bumped the price up a little over $1,500. Totally worth it.

Lifestyle Points

All the nooks and crannies – cargo nets, storage space and even a brilliantly designed center console that has a cutout recessed far enough I can get my giant water bottle for Yoga class in it – are obviously designed for people who spend time in cars. Extra USB ports and AC/DC outlets are lifesavers for the family that travels with tech.

Mazda earned big bonus points in my book with their charitable efforts – whether you buy one of their cars or not. The Mazda Drive for Good® Event gives back to communities across the country. During the campaign Mazda pledged one hour of their time to a local worthy cause with every test drive. When a lease or purchase came through they donated $150 to one of four national or 40 local charities.

Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring Review

The total amount of the 2015 Mazda Drive for Good® Event ended up in the ballpark of $5,354,000 and over 72K hours of service. They also kindly supplied us with a gift card for our favorite local charity. I’m a sucker for brands that give back! 

On a scale of 1-5 {five being best} in the Will this be The Teen’s Ride score book, the Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring Edition lands a solid 4, maybe even a 4.5. We’ll certainly keep shopping. Remember… mum is the word.

Do you have a teen driver? What are you looking for in a car for them? I’d love some advice!  

2015 Lexus GS 350 F Sport – The Ultimate Road Trip Ride

The Road Is Life - Jack Kerouac - Chicken Nuggets of Wisdom

Kerouac may have elevated the road trip to a metaphysical awakening, but no matter what kind of ‘trip’ you’re seeking the journey begins when rubber hits the road. 

Idling in the pick up line at school, I often find myself daydreaming of the days when the rubber beneath me isn’t attached to the family taxi. It matters not if you call it a ‘swagger wagon,’ the fact is the family car just isn’t that cool – or mine isn’t. 

The oldest Nugget is now out on his own, the next one in line will be driving this year. It won’t be long until I can start shopping for a car I want to drive, rather than one that has room for four kids and all their accoutrements.  To be honest, I’m already researching what comes next.

glaming roadtrip in the Lexus GS 350 F SportEarlier this month I had the chance to indulge in daydreams made real when Lexus invited us to take their GS 350 F Sport along on a road trip to go glaming in Upstate New York. I fear that Violet Beauregard (the given name of the deep blue crossover I drive) may never recover from the envy.

So what’s to love about this car? Certainly not how it looks on the outside. In fact, I’d say it looks much like any other slightly sporty sedan out there. The front grille is even reminiscent of the Toyota Camry. Not surprising considering Toyota is the parent company of Lexus.  Judging a book by it’s cover is rarely a fruitful endeavor, the same holds true with the “cover” of a car. 

The GS 350 F Sport interior has a cool, almost vintage 70s luxury muscle car feel to it. Sporty touches –chrome plating on the foot board, a sleek clock in place of the typical digital,  a cockpit-style console-  play the perfect background to a suite of tech (Lexus Enform) that compliments the power residing under the hood.

2015 Lexus GS 350 F Sport Review - cockpitPut simply, this car was just fun to drive. It took the steep climb into the Appalachian mountains like it was parking lot flat. The drag on the engine felt minimal. It handled like a dream on the  winding turns down the two-lane highway into the Finger Lakes region.  With the turn of a knob I could take it from gas-conserving ECO mode into Sport mode, giving me extra control of the driving experience. The kids were overly impressed with the switch in dashboard lighting colors and the schematic readout on the heads-up display when modes changed. Hey, if it keeps them from whining about weather we’re there yet or not, it’s a luxury feature in my book.

Lexus GS 350 F Sport ModeAs much as I’d love to pick a car based solely on how much I like driving it, the sad truth is there are other factors that weigh more heavily.

Does It Get Good Gas Mileage?

29 mpg on the highway is good for a family like ours who spend most weekends on the road. It’s great for a car with 306 horse power.

Can I Get The Groceries In it?

Yes. The trunk is spacious. We fit three carry-on sized suitcases, 2 fully packed SCOUT bags, and a small cooler in it and still had room for our road-side shopping hauls.Lexus GS 350 F Sport Review

Is It Safe?

While it’s packed with the typical safety features (air bags, lane departure warning, car seat tethers) Lexus goes above and beyond here. The Pre-Collision System available on the GS includes a Driver Attention Monitor that is designed to know you’re ogling the offerings displayed in front of that cute little road-side antique shop. It can tell if you’re facing away from the road when an obstacle is detected ahead and warn you, potentially helping you avoid disaster, it can even automatically begin braking a full two seconds before impact. Then thee is the Dynamic Radar Cruise Control system that employes radar technology to sense the speed of any vehicles in front of you. If your vehicle gets too close to the vehicle ahead, the throttle is automatically reduced and the brakes are applied. As soon as the road ahead clears, it brings you back up to speed.

Is It Worth The Money?

This IS a Lexus, and luxury in any car tends to come with a hefty price tag. The GS 350 F Sport starts out at around $53,500. For that though you’re also getting some cutting edge tech in the form of a fully integrate suite that includes a 12.3-inch high-resolution split-screen multimedia display. Though I’ll admit that I find the mouse in the console a bit distracting. Plus you do get a car that hugs you… seriously, it hugs you. There are what seems to be endless options for adjusting the driver and front passenger seats. Pump up the lumbar and side supports, and hug it out. Add these features, to the safety suite, respectable gas mileage and that price tag doesn’t seem too far out in left filed. Would I pay it? I’d have to sleep on that.

 

Disclosure: I was provided the opportunity to drive this vehicle for one week as an extended test drive. I received no compensation from the manufacture, nor incentives or directives to provide a favorable review. All opinions are 100% my own – because you deserve nothing less!  

Smart Phones Are Taking Over The WORLD!

My “smart” –or evil genius in waiting– phone can help me find my way out of that paper sack I’m always lost in. It can babysit my kids (hello Angry Birds). The mother-in-law gets her own ring tone. I call it the “off” button. I can shoot video, send email, take pictures… just like every other schmuck out there. All that and until today I thought it was my friend. I now know that it’s just waiting for me to fall asleep so it can turn on the Chevy Traverse I’ve been driving for almost a month now as one of the Baltimore Chevy Girls and proceed with it’s diabolical plan for world domination.

Okay so I might be suffering from a little Invader Zim-itus there, but this video will explain the roots of my paranoia inspiration.

Chevy: There Is An App For That from Baltimore Chevy Girls on Vimeo.

A Thing of Beauty!

Frank Lloyd Wright once said that “Space is the breath of art”. Of course he was talking about the American Arts and Crafts movement and works of breath taking beauty. Then again don’t they say that; “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” ? Well get ready to BEHOLD beauty that every parent can appreciate.  I give you a work of art courtesy of the Traverse. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My “Canvas” and Raw Materials: One teen, one exhibition in angst that is a tween age girl, two 6 and under rugrats, my muses – Scout by Bungalow shopping bags (you can fit the 4 year old in the big one it’s that big!), one fully stocked cooler (hello hummus!), one folding chair, two very well “loved” stuffies and because life is art and art is music one Raven amplifier and one electric guitar (jam session anyone?)

And now the beauty of amazing cargo space…..

 

 

 

 

 

THIS my Nuggetiers is a THING OF BEAUTY!

The Chevy Girls on the Go campaign is being sponsored by the Baltimore Area Chevy dealers. They are letting me test drive the Traverse for one month and providing me with gift cards for Girls on the Go missions as well as a camera to video tape my adventures. All opinions expressed are my own.

Many Hats

Hey ya Nuggetiers it’s me in my many hats; exhausted mommy, adoring-patient-accommodating wife, CNIC (Chief Nugget in Charge) and as of last Friday “Your Baltimore Area Chevy Girl” let me tell you…it is good to be a Chevy Girl.

I discovered this upon becoming one myself… last Friday at WBAL TV studios, high atop TV hill in Baltimore…at my “Chevy Girl Immersion”, as it were.  Now, for many folks just being on television would have sealed the deal (and very nearly did for me, accept for the whole camera adding 20 pounds thing)…but wait!  There’s MORE!

When you’re a Chevy Girl…

**You can pretend like you don’t own a 2003 Hyundai for a month (I love me an excuse to be delusional).

**You have your very own On-Star fairy. Folks, trust me.  When you generally have trouble navigating out of your own neighborhood, having a disembodied voice on your side is a huge plus.  (And I’ve found that it freaks the kids out less if you name her…just sayin’.)

**You get to name your Traverse, too. Mine is Nevil. He’s terribly charming.

Meet Nevil. We’re currently in talks to get him a “drive on” in the new Bond movie.  He’s THAT charming…

 

 

Bond… Nevil Bond…

 


**You have insanely FUNCTIONAL cup holders!  Finally, engineers are paying attention to the IMPORTANT parts of design.  And with the Traverse, man, did they hit a homer.  (What? I tell you, sometimes it’s the little things that make the difference!)

**Speaking of little things…USB port always available.  That, Mr. Sheen, is WINNING. <—- did I just quote Charlie Sheen? Ugh that’s so two-and-a-half months ago

**Your husband finally thinks it’s cool that you’re a blogger.  Epic.

** Your Traverse is essentially a mobile Mom Cave. (more on that later)

But, the most important reason it’s “Good to be a Chevy Girl”…… (insert drum roll here)
All the other Chevy Girls! From Baltimore to Philly, Dallas to Salt Lake and all over our great nation..

CHEVY GIRLS ROCK! And I’m paired up with the rockin-est of them all the Keonte of Mom 2k and Madeline of Peace, Love, Lipgloss.. DOUBLE BONUS!

The Chevy Girls on the Go campaign is being sponsored by the Baltimore Area Chevy dealers. They are letting me test drive the Traverse for one month and providing me with gift cards for Girls on the Go missions as well as a camera to video tape my adventures. All opinions expressed are my own.